Victoria Azarenka thought ‘she’d never play tennis again’ after pregnancy
Victoria Azarenka said she believed her tennis career would end with pregnancy, but she is determined to leave a legacy to help other women players in the future.
Azarenka was ranked sixth in the world when, in 2016, she fell pregnant with son Leo.
In a revealing interview with the BBC, she discussed the fear she felt at the time and how it has changed her attitude on many things since.
“I was scared,” the 30-year-old Belarusian said. “It wasn’t easy.”
“But then, it was all about knowing I was going to come back, and when I was going to come back.
“I felt it was a blessing, but I still wanted to have my own dreams and my own career.
“I knew I was going to come back, but my first initial thought was ‘oh my god, I’m never going to play tennis again’.”
“Before my son was born, tennis was my life. I said I was going to come back because it was still so important to me to prove it to people,” she says.
“But I don’t love it that much any more, but that’s fine, because I want to be with my son every single minute of my life. But tennis is my job.”
Azarenka, along with Serena Williams, has since successfully campaigned for greater rankings protection from the WTA.
Previously, women returning after pregnancy had to return within three years and could use a special ranking for eight tournaments within one year.
View this post on Instagram
From 2019, though, players will be able to use a protected ranking to enter 12 tournaments over a three year period and will be exempt from facing seeded player in an opening round.
“We have the power to change the rules and we have done,” Azarenka added.
“I think that is what I want my legacy to be, that I’m fighting for women to be more comfortable, to break those stereotypes and move the needle a little forward.
“That evolution is going to continue to break boundaries and the illusion of women in sport.”
More from Tennis365:
Andy Murray comes up short in his quarter-final clash in Metz
Murray was beaten by top seed Hubert Hurkacz at the Moselle Open in Metz
Big change in Emma Raducanu’s camp as she seeks to make key appointment
Raducanu is preparing to make big changes to the team she will be working with after confirming she is on the look-out for a new coach.
Emma Raducanu to be given ‘homecoming’ broadcast to toast her US Open win
The Lawn Tennis Association are set to give Emma Raducanu the welcome home she deserves.
Exclusive – Assessing Novak Djokovic’s legacy with one of the game’s leading writers
Novak Djokovic has always been fighting a losing battle in a popularity contest with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Emma Raducanu could secure a place in lucrative end-of-season WTA finals
Raducanu could be on course to secure a remarkable place in the lucrative end-of-season WTA finals in Mexico.
Andy Murray eyeing up leap in the rankings after another win in Metz
Murray is one win away from a return to the top 100 in the ATP rankings.
Emma Raducanu confirms first sponsorship deal and plenty more will follow
The sponsorship opportunities are rolling in for…
‘Winning is what sport is all about’ – Andy Murray reacts to one of his best wins of 2021
The former world number dispatched the home favourite favourite 4-6 6-3 6-2.
Andy Murray accepts wildcard as he prepares to return to scene of one of his great wins
Murray completed a comeback few believed was possible when he won the ATP event in Antwerp in 2019.
Coaching guru insists Emma Raducanu still has much to prove after US Open win
She is the new queen of tennis…